Reading sections of the Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice took me back to my MBA studies from 1979 to 1982. During that life period, I was wrestling with pursuing a call to ministry while also pursuing an enhanced vocational education to provide better employment options to support my new bride and an eventual family. I was working full-time for a major industrial engineering and construction company, working part-time as a youth associate pastor, and pursuing three years of part-time MBA studies, while also trying to learn how to be a husband with all of my twenty-something years of life experience. I shake my head now and wonder how God and Glo ever got me and put up with me through it all (including all of my arrogance and self-inflicted failings.)
With a technical undergraduate degree, the attendant MBA was purported to be the golden ticket to fame, fortune, and fulfillment (I added that last one in for alliteration and good measure!) My MBA focus was in organizational leadership since it seemed to be the buzzword of the day. We reviewed seemingly, countless cases and typed (it is true!) both individual and group presentations. Upon completion of our MBA, allegedly we were prepared to become strategic leaders of our respective organizations.
As I flash-forward to today, I reflect upon some forty years of local church leadership and have come to several succinct realizations. First, I was an abysmal leader. I was not only poor at leading, but I was also poor at developing leaders. Second, I was both woefully under-prepared and unprepared to lead a local church. Third, because I love the church today more than ever (despite all of my failings and wounds), I am committed to the development of the local church leaders (pastors) and especially their abilities to develop leaders from within their church communities. That is my own experiences fuel my passion for assisting local church leaders develop their adaptive leadership skills.
Our source points out that, “Leadership development may be one of the most important yet understudied areas in leadership research.” If this is true for non-faith based organizations, how much more needful is it within the church where we have traditionally fled from the consideration of best business practices. If we only considered the question of the unprecedented social transformation taking place within society (including the causes and pace of change),  we can surmise the world our local churches are called to serve will necessitate local church leaders with unprecedented adaptive leadership skills.
Additionally, our source states, “Anyone who has ever suffered under an incompetent leader knows the local toll it takes,..” Yes, I confess I was a terrible leader. Unfortunately, I and others also have suffered under terrible leaders. As we consider the impairment caused by “lousy” leadership it seems obvious that it is crucial to invest in developing (and sometimes healing up) leadership talent. With respect, some may view leadership as intuitive or a gift of the Spirit. I prefer to focus on treating the leadership development of current, and prospective pastors seriously. My research will venture to demonstrate how vigorous coaching networks can assist local church pastors to utilize their contextual experiences wisely. The end-game is to partner with those with sufficient dedication and desire to learn the craft of developing leaders (both themselves and others.)
 Khurana, Rakesh and Nitin Nohria, eds., Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: An HBS Centennial Colloquium on Advancing Leadership (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2010) 674.
 Elliott, Anthony, Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction, rev. ed. (London, UK: Routledge, 2014), 11-15.
 Khurana and Nohria, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, 705.